Monday, April 3, 2017

ARC Review: Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer

Title: Spindle Fire (Spindle Fire #1) 
Author: Lexa Hillyer
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 368
Add to Goodreads

//I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review// 

Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king's headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes with a single drop of Aurora's blood--and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken. As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.

Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls: and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape . . . or the reason for her to stay.
Spindle Fire is a lush fantasy set in the dwindling, deliciously corrupt world of the fae and featuring two truly unforgettable heroines.

If you know me at all, then you know I love retellings. Sleeping Beauty is one fairy tale that, sadly, doesn't seem to get much attention. (Maybe because Aurora is usually asleep through the whole thing?) So when I saw Spindle Fire several months back and the premise sounded original, I knew I had to have it!

Spindle Fire is a totally unique take on the Sleeping Beauty tale. Yes, Aurora does fall into a deep sleep, but that isn't the end for her. Instead of the story being taken over by Prince Charming, Aurora wakes up in a dream world where her adventure continues. Aurora is also not the perfect, musical princess you know. In this retelling she has no voice and no sense of touch - both things given as tithes to the faeries. Aurora also has a sister, Isbe (Isabelle), who is blind for the same reason. Spindle Fire is told in alternating views between these two characters.

Both Aurora and Isbe were fantastic, strong characters! Although I've always been a little annoyed by the character Aurora (in the Disney movie and in the couple retellings I've found over the years), I loved her here. Despite finding herself in an unfamiliar and dangerous world, she manages to overcome, sometimes throwing herself straight into danger for the good of herself and others. Isbe is the first example of a blind character I've read who seemed realistic! Often, blind characters are written to have magical abilities to make up for their blindness, but Isbe was stronger because of it. And yes, I loved Prince William! The romance wasn't the main focus of Spindle Fire, but it was utterly swoon-worthy.

I also really enjoyed the world building in Spindle Fire. Like the characters and the plot, the world was (you guessed it) unique. There is no Maleficent. Instead, there's Malfleur, the faerie queen who cursed Aurora and is building an army. Her sister Belcoeur, who is assumed dead, has created a dream world and resides there. Both the real and dream worlds are beautifully described and obviously well thought out. The atmosphere is equal parts magical and unsettling.

The one complaint I have seen over and over about Spindle Fire is the writing style, and I have to admit it took me awhile to get into it. This book is written in third person present tense and it was definitely jarring at first. Once I got used to the style, though, I was able to enjoy it. My only other problem with Spindle Fire was that the story did seem to just mosey along quite a bit. There wasn't much urgency to a lot of the story.

Spindle Fire was not a perfect book, but it was an incredibly unique take on the classic Sleeping Beauty tale and it does a lot of things right. Anytime a story I think I know inside and out is able to surprise me, I call it a success! It wasn't an especially fast book, but Spindle Fire did keep me guessing and even threw a twist out of nowhere near the end that totally shook me! If you enjoy retellings, I definitely recommend picking this up and giving the strange writing style a chance. The unique story and characters are totally worth it!